Social media has had a bit of a bad rap when it comes to education and the classroom.
Teachers disapprove of the use of phones to check Instagram during classes, parents lament the decline in spelling of their children because of Facebook.
People have been calling it many names, but is it actually that bad, or do we simply not know how to use it? Studies show that there are many ways to implement social media to enhance the learning experience of students. It empowers learners, strengthens the feeling of community in the classroom, and makes it easier to find common interests between students. Many positive impacts can be gained from utilizing social media, but teachers should clearly understand what they aim to gain from exploiting it.
Here are a couple of reasons you should make use of social media in your classroom.
You would think that putting students in the same classroom and giving them a common cause to worry about (pop quizzes or exams) would unite and strengthen their relationship with each other. Well, not really. While a close geographical location may cause some kind of unity between a couple of students, scientists have found that having an online channel where students get to share their experience and thoughts have created a stronger sense of connectedness among them. Having a place where people feel free to voice their concerns about homework and classes underlines the similarity between students..
In the right hands, social media can promote positiveness and boost the confidence of your students. On average, 95% of teens use some kind of technology and 45% claim to be constantly online. While they mostly aim to get entertained, they also utilize social media to gain more information on specific topics, as well as, share their ideas with others. Due to the global spread of social media, it is easy to find like-minded people online, where geographical location doesn’t matter. Imagine how classroom discussions would change if you put them in an online world, where everybody seems to be more eager to share their opinion.
While using social media is surely helpful for your students, it is also beneficial for you. Being an English teacher, specifically an online English teacher, it is often challenging to find new clients. Sharing photos on a private parent’s slack channel where you teach their students (of course, with parental consent) or creating small videos of potential exercises they can do at home can help to increase parent’s trust towards you. When you present the work you do within your class, people see your skills and understand the importance of having you as a teacher. Thus, social media can help highlight your uniqueness as a teacher and promote your services for free.
We understand that sometimes it can be confusing how to implement social media in your class. So we came up with five suggestions on enhancing the learning experience of your students using social media.
Facebook to broadcast updates for the class
Creating a Facebook closed group for your class is a great way to make sure that your students keep up with changes and updates related to their lessons. While “I forgot my school password” or “I didn’t know we had a website” are great excuses, there are going to be less believable reasons why somebody did not know what homework was given if the students are part of a Facebook group.
Facebook to create interest groups
As we have mentioned before, finding like-minded people is one of the benefits of having social media. Setting interest groups for your classroom will uncover hidden talents and create new friendships that could have been hidden by the silence of the classroom. You can ask students about their interests and create groups based on that, making it a requirement to join at least two of them.
Instagram to write photo essays
Suggest students create temporary Instagram accounts and post photos with short captions on “How they spent their summer.” Don’t make it about likes and followers, but instead support the enthusiasm and engagement. Who knows, maybe you will discover a future Annie Leibovitz right in your classroom.
Pinterest to share inspiration
It can be about ideas for future exercises, class trips or just communicating the daily mood in the class. There is nothing more uniting than searching for a meme that will best describe the emotions of students who slept two hours just before the test. Laughter and smiles are guaranteed. You can join and bring your creativity to the whole experience. Students often forget that teachers are also humans and have personalities, so enjoying non-educational minutes together can be a great bonding experience.
Blog to write essays
We cannot ignore the need of knowing how to write and post blogs. Everybody has at least one friend who wants to be a blogger and share their vision through texts. Make it more interesting for students than just writing a boring essay on paper. The blog posts can be as long as three thousand words, but what if they are about their favourite movie or book? What if it is not just about academic writing, but about researching their hobby? Writing is not just about grammar. It is an exploration of yourself.
The speed with which kids learn to use media is unimaginable. By utilizing social media in your educational environment, you not only exploit the time that students already spend on their phones but also make sure that this time benefits them. Instead of just giving up and labelling social media as a waste of time, as an innovative teacher, you should be able to find a way to enhance the learning experience of your students. At the end of the day, we both know how you spend your nights…scrolling through Tiktok!
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The post How to Use Social Media to Enhance Students’ Learning Experience appeared first on The TEFL Academy Blog.